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Digging to America: A Novel

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Digging to America: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780307263940
ISBN10: 0307263940
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

Anne Tyler put her skilled pen to paper and wrote a powerful novel of America's melting pot. Brought together by international adoptions, two family's lives intertwine and illuminate America's cultural spectrum and all its universalities of human nature. Funny, touching, highly recommended.
Recommended by Lorraine, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"With her 17th novel, Tyler has delivered something startlingly fresh while retaining everything we love about her work. Digging to America delivers the blithely insular, suburban Baltimore characters we expect, but it's a bait-and-switch move....Her success at portraying culture clash and the complex longings and resentments of those new to America confirms what we knew, or should have known, all along: There's nothing small about Tyler's world, nothing precious about her attention to the hopes and fears of ordinary people." Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)

"[S]tupendously wise and very funny....Digging to America succeeds on many levels — as a satire of millennial parenting, a tribute to autumn romances, and, most important, an exploration of our risible (though poignant) attempts to welcome otherness into our midst." Elizabeth Judd, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In what is perhaps her richest and most deeply searching novel, Anne Tyler gives us a story about what it is to be an American, and about Maryam Yazdan, who after thirty-five years in this country must finally come to terms with her "outsiderness."

Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport — the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam's fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian American wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate with an "arrival party," an event that is repeated every year as the two families become more deeply intertwined.

Even independent-minded Maryam is drawn in. But only up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by one of the Donaldson clan, a good-hearted man of her vintage, recently widowed and still recovering from his wife's death, suddenly all the values she cherishes — her traditions, her privacy, her otherness — are threatened. Somehow this big American takes up so much space that the orderly boundaries of her life feel invaded.

A luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny, and tender observations that cast a penetrating light on the American way as seen from two perspectives, those who are born here and those who are still struggling to fit in.

Review:

"The veteran novelist extends her range without losing her essence....Vintage Tyler, with enough fresh, new touches to earn her the next generation of fans." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Tyler creates many blissful moments of high emotion and keen humor while broaching hard truths about cultural differences, communication breakdowns, and family configurations. This deeply human tale of valiantly improvised lives is one of Tyler's best." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"At a time when discussions of immigration and citizenship have become increasingly fraught, Tyler's Digging to America offers tranquil insight by telling one immigration story and telling it well." Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"[A] compelling novel. Anyone can tell a story, but few writers allow us to identify with their 'just folks' characters, and, like Tyler, let us revel in the day-to-day, often repetitive activities that are at the heart of being a family member and a friend." USA Today

Review:

"Digging to America is studded with lovely observations....Tyler has cast her abiding theme — the art of surviving among shifting, challenging circumstances — in a story more anchored in a specific time than any previous work." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"A touching, well-crafted tale of friendship, families, and what it means to be an American. Recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Ms. Tyler deserves her reputation as a master of the fine threads of human relationships. The barely registered slights, fleeting intuitions and shivers of pity that pass between these characters are a pleasure to behold." The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"If you plan to soak up a few rays while reading [Digging to America], liberally apply the sunscreen before you start the 277-page book. Otherwise, you might find yourself caught up in her 17th novel and not want to stop to slather up again." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Review:

"Once again, this wise and warm-hearted author delves beneath the surface of ordinary Americans to find that there are no ordinary Americans." Christian Science Monitor

About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. This is Anne Tyler's seventeenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 10 comments:

Hu Gadrn, June 11, 2009 (view all comments by Hu Gadrn)
Apparently a lot of people like this book. I'm not one of them. The cover said "witty..." and "hilarious..." but I find the book to be neither. The characters feel like characters in a book and not like people.

I'm at page 103 and have not laughed once nor have I thought that any situation or insight presented in the book was interesting. And don't get me started on the sloppy writing (e.g. "He tended to slip into a fusty, overstarched style of speech on these occasions" - yes, you read that correctly, "fusty" - I guess that's meant to be funny).

So why am I still reading it? Like many who'll pick up this book, my wife and I are adopting a baby boy from S Korea. I’ve been doing my homework and this book was part of it.

But sweet mother of the gods, when does this book get good?
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(13 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)
MaggersUK, February 16, 2008 (view all comments by MaggersUK)
I loved this novel; I was sucked into this world completely. It taught me just as much about American Americans as immigrant Americans; and yet I recognised the same thoughts and reasonings and doubts in myself as her characters, so her canvas is universal not parochial, even though all her books are based in Balitmore.
I always think 'That's how I feel!' when reading an Anne Tyler. How does she capture so exquisitely the minutae of everyday life?? She's a genius...
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(13 of 24 readers found this comment helpful)
titianlibrarian, January 21, 2008 (view all comments by titianlibrarian)
A little more breadth than depth when dealing with most of the issues (immigrants' assimilation into American culture, international adoptions, women's friendships, women raising their children, etc.), but the main character's depth makes up for the skimming. Maryam is an Iranian widow who stands at the edge of the family. She is loved by all, but she just doesn't see how she ought to get too involved with her granddaughter's adoption from Korea, her daughter-in-law's involvement with an American family, and the love that an American widower wants to give her. But her loved ones never give up on her, thank goodness.
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(12 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 10 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307263940
Author:
Tyler, Anne
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Friendship
Subject:
Intercountry adoption
Copyright:
Publication Date:
May 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9.54x6.64x1.04 in. 1.29 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Digging to America: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780307263940 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Anne Tyler put her skilled pen to paper and wrote a powerful novel of America's melting pot. Brought together by international adoptions, two family's lives intertwine and illuminate America's cultural spectrum and all its universalities of human nature. Funny, touching, highly recommended.

"Review A Day" by , "With her 17th novel, Tyler has delivered something startlingly fresh while retaining everything we love about her work. Digging to America delivers the blithely insular, suburban Baltimore characters we expect, but it's a bait-and-switch move....Her success at portraying culture clash and the complex longings and resentments of those new to America confirms what we knew, or should have known, all along: There's nothing small about Tyler's world, nothing precious about her attention to the hopes and fears of ordinary people." (read the entire Washington Post Book World review)
"Review A Day" by , "[S]tupendously wise and very funny....Digging to America succeeds on many levels — as a satire of millennial parenting, a tribute to autumn romances, and, most important, an exploration of our risible (though poignant) attempts to welcome otherness into our midst." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"Review" by , "The veteran novelist extends her range without losing her essence....Vintage Tyler, with enough fresh, new touches to earn her the next generation of fans."
"Review" by , "Tyler creates many blissful moments of high emotion and keen humor while broaching hard truths about cultural differences, communication breakdowns, and family configurations. This deeply human tale of valiantly improvised lives is one of Tyler's best."
"Review" by , "At a time when discussions of immigration and citizenship have become increasingly fraught, Tyler's Digging to America offers tranquil insight by telling one immigration story and telling it well."
"Review" by , "[A] compelling novel. Anyone can tell a story, but few writers allow us to identify with their 'just folks' characters, and, like Tyler, let us revel in the day-to-day, often repetitive activities that are at the heart of being a family member and a friend."
"Review" by , "Digging to America is studded with lovely observations....Tyler has cast her abiding theme — the art of surviving among shifting, challenging circumstances — in a story more anchored in a specific time than any previous work."
"Review" by , "A touching, well-crafted tale of friendship, families, and what it means to be an American. Recommended."
"Review" by , "Ms. Tyler deserves her reputation as a master of the fine threads of human relationships. The barely registered slights, fleeting intuitions and shivers of pity that pass between these characters are a pleasure to behold."
"Review" by , "If you plan to soak up a few rays while reading [Digging to America], liberally apply the sunscreen before you start the 277-page book. Otherwise, you might find yourself caught up in her 17th novel and not want to stop to slather up again."
"Review" by , "Once again, this wise and warm-hearted author delves beneath the surface of ordinary Americans to find that there are no ordinary Americans."
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